The SIT Zero Fees Southland Sharks have charged home late to claim their 11th win of the 2018 Sal's NBL with a 112-105 victory over the Taranaki Mountainairs tonight in New Plymouth.
The Sharks earned their first lead of the night with 4:24 left in the third quarter and rode a hot night from Orlando Coleman who finished with a game high 27 points on 90% shooting along with 11 rebounds, 5 assists and 3 steals.
Southland found themselves behind early as they started stone cold and Alonzo Burton lit things up from beyond the arc to catapult the Airs to an 11-point lead in the first, before the Sharks found their range to close the deficit to four at the first break. The Airs stretched that margin to six by the main break, before the Sharks came home strong.
The finished 61% from the field on 44/72 shooting and dominated the boards, out-rebounding the Airs 40-27, even with Alex Pledger sitting for the entire second half.
Southland again relied on a balanced attack, Coleman's stat sheet-stuffing night complemented by Reuben Te Rangi (17 points and 7 rebounds) and Conor Morgan 17 points and 4 assists), both of whom hit crucial shots in the final quarter. James Hunter stepped up in Pledger's absence, finishing with a crucial 16 points off the bench with Tom Vodanovich and Derone Raukawa also adding crucial buckets. Southland's bench outscoring their Airs counterparts 37-12.
The win moves the Sharks to 11 wins and 3 losses and puts them into second place alongside the Nelson Giants, behind the Wellington Saints.
In tonight's other game the Hawks dealt the Canterbury Rams' Final 4 aspirations a body blow with a 84-78 victory.
The Sharks travel to Palmerston North tomorrow for a Sunday afternoon clash with the Manawatu Jets. Tip off is 1pm.